HL Deb 25 July 1979 vol 401 cc1925-7

2.51 p.m.


My Lords, I think it will be for the convenience of the House if I were now to inform your Lordships that the Government will not move the Regional Development Grants (Variation of Prescribed Percentages) Order 1979 this afternoon. This order was considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments yesterday afternoon and they drew attention to the fact that there was an error of one day in a date referred to in the order. This report is available, I am told, in the Printed Paper Office.

The chairman of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments raised this point in another place yesterday evening. As a result the Government decided to withdraw the order there and to replace it with a new order containing the correct date; and this is being laid today. The Motion for the approval of this new order will be moved in your Lordships' House tomorrow immediately before the Un-starred Question. Although the new order will be in a form which meets the criticism of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, the order being laid today will not have been considered by the Joint Committee. My noble friend the Lord President will move the suspension of Standing Order 68 which requires that no Affirmative Instrument should be approved in this House until it has been reported on by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

My Lords, I very much regret the inconvenience which may be caused to your Lordships, and particularly to those noble Lords who have indicated their intention to speak on the order this afternoon.


My Lords, leaving aside the question of the inconvenience to those Members of your Lordships' House who were going to speak this afternoon, we on these Benches, and I am sure in other parts of the House, are really deeply shocked that Her Majesty's Government, who are moving a major reduction of aid to industry in areas where there is the highest unemployment, where they are putting thousands of jobs into jeopardy and causing a major disruption of industry itself during the course of it, should have put this through with such reckless speed that your Lordships' House is unable to consider it properly.

I am bound to tell Her Majesty's Government and the noble Lord himself that we on these Benches feel it to be symptomatic of the whole way in which this Administration is conducting its business. I wish formally to register the profound regret and the deepest disquiet of this House.


My Lords, since this is my Department, I should like to say to all your Lordships that I am very sorry. The only other comment that I will make is that the policy has not been rushed although the document may have been so. I apologise for the one date which was in error and for the undoubted inconvenience to all noble Lords, and particularly those who were to take part in the debate. I am very sorry indeed.


My Lords, is there not an element of double talk in the comments made by the noble Baroness, when talking about business being rushed through this House without discussion, when she was responsible for leading the team which brought about the guillotine and allowed so much important legislation to be made into law without having been discussed by either House? That is an element of duplication which ought not to remain uncorrected.


My Lords, the previous Government have never got an order wrong twice—which is what the present Government have done. When we had to put through business quickly it was at the end of a long Session. This Government think—I hope, wrongly—that they have five years in front of them. The whole performance has been disgraceful!


My Lords, keeping in mind that those Members of this House most affected by the Regional Development Grants Order live out of town and try to get home to those regions at a reasonable hour on Thursday and Friday, would the noble Lord indicate when this debate might take place tomorrow?


My Lords, it will be on the Order Paper immediately before the Unstarred Question. I think that I might, with a little thought, be able to give the noble Lord himself an indication of when this might be reached. It depends upon how long the business before it takes.

My Lords, I repeat my apologies for this and, particularly, for the inconvenience to your Lordships. As regards the comments by the noble Baroness on the order itself, I do not think that it would be proper for me to answer those this afternoon.

A noble Lord: You could not!